.- As the Catholic Church prepares for the massive World Youth Day celebration to be held in Cologne, Germany next month, faithful in Australia are already placing their bids to hold the next worldwide event in their own backyard.
According to reports, Sydney’s Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell has flown to the Vatican to petition the Holy Father to hold the 2008 event--first conceived by the late John Paul II--down under.
The 2008 World Youth Day will be the 11th event, traditionally held outside of Rome on odd numbered years since it first took place in John Paul II’s native Poland.
Officials speculate that if Sydney wins the competitive bid, it could bring some 250,000 visitors to the country, surpassing the 2000 Olympic games as the largest event in Australia’s history.
Cardinal Pell said recently that "We believe that we have the capacity in Sydney and throughout Australia to host this gathering; the spiritual strength, the organizational expertise and financial resources necessary."
Pope Benedict XVI will announce the official site for 2008 on August 21st, the final day of this year’s World Youth Day. Sydney’s major competition is said to be coming largely from South Africa and Brazil.
Reports also add that Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard strongly supports the bid.